3 min read | 9 December, 2020 By Laura Sands
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Small business owners are notoriously bad at taking time off and booking annual leave. So much so, that one study showed 1 in 5 don’t take any time off at all.
Skipping holidays may feel like a temporary solution to get through busy periods. We tell ourselves, “I’ll take the time off when things are quieter / under control / when that empty role is filled.”
But the problem is there’s never a perfect time to take a break. And soon enough, a pattern of working day in, day out creeps in. Your business soon develops a culture of presenteeism which impacts employees as well as the business owner.
Managers who appear to view holidays and time off as a ‘nice to do’ quickly create an unhealthy culture. Employees become reluctant to use their annual leave entitlement, something that has far-reaching implications.
Employees who don’t use their annual leave entitlement are less productive, more likely to take unplanned absence and are more likely to suffer with health problems. Too many employees aren’t using up their full holiday allowance and instead are feigning illness to get some much-needed rest from work.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of employees have faked being sick, with the need for a ‘rest’ day being the number one reason.
Consider that burn-out is costing the UK economy £1.4billion a year and you’ll see the potential downside that comes from employers and their staff neglecting to take annual leave.
By taking all their annual leave and respecting their employees’ time off, employers set a healthy precedent for the rest of their business.
This means employees feel comfortable taking the annual leave they are entitled to and leaving work behind when they do so. The result? More effective and happier employees who will deliver better results for your business.
Being consumed by work and your working environment day in, day out can restrict your perspective. By changing your scenery and routine, you leave yourself exposed to the unknown and new experiences.
And this has the potential to fuel creativity, creating eureka moments and the opportunity to see old problems in a new light. Sometimes all we need is a step back to see things clearly and break the habits we’ve created.
For many business owners, the work/life balance is a myth. It’s more realistic to call it a work/life blend. The two sides coexist and blend in with one another; compartmentalising them just isn’t practical.
But taking time off is important for us as individuals. Not least because it gives you an opportunity to limit your involvement with work and focus on other things, such as family, friends, hobbies, even volunteering.
Sure, there’ll always be the odd email to respond to, but you can keep it to a minimum. This gives you the chance to do something else, strengthen relationships with others and protect your mental health.
As with so many other things, employers who take their annual leave and actively encourage their employees to do so, set the tone for a more positive workplace culture.
Similar to flexible working, parental leave and a no-evening-emails policy, bosses who take annual leave start a chain of events that build a positive and sustainable company culture.
Want to know more about building a positive workplace culture? Read about our Culture Pledge.
It can be difficult for business owners and managers to take a break because they know the buck stops with them. But it’s important to recognise that we can’t do everything alone.
Managers who make themselves indispensable are sending out a message that they can’t / won’t trust their employees. It’s a demotivating message and one that can affect the way your staff work.
Instead, by planning to take holidays and empowering your team to work without you looking over their shoulder, you show them that you trust them.
A reluctance to take annual leave can have a more detrimental and lasting effect on your business than a well-planned fortnight away could ever have. Set the right example, show you trust your employees and promote a positive culture – and the rewards will be clear to see.
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